City of Houston water restrictions making progress, but still implemented

No one has been fined yet, but Houston Public Works said they have received about 35 complaints against violators. 


FILE – A sprinkler waters the lawn of a home on Wednesday, May 18, 2016, in Santa Ana, Calif.

The City of Houston's water restrictions are still in place, but Houston Public Works said progress is being made.

Houston entered its Stage 2 Drought Contingency Plan last month after it said the excessive heat was putting a strain on its water system – which could be a reason for water line leaks and residents’ low water pressure. Randy Macchi, Houston Public Works Chief Operating Officer said the system is getting better.

"I can say that we have noticed that there has been some change in system pressures where areas that were suffering prior to the stage two restrictions are starting to get a little bit better," he said. "But we do continue to struggle with isolated areas where when you get towards the end and fringes of it – it can be a little bit more to see the same types of pressure that you would see when we’re not in such a high water usage time."

Outside water usage is limited to only two days a week between the hours of 7 p.m. and 5 a.m., depending on the customer’s home address. Anyone who violates the measures will be given a written fine for a first-time violation and up to $2,000 fine for each recurring offense.

No one has been fined yet, but Houston Public Works said they have received about 35 complaints against violators.

Houston Public Works had a goal to reduce the overall water system usage by 10% and the department said it had not reached its goal yet. The department is still dealing with a big water line leak problem. Houston has dealt with temperatures over 100 degrees and little to no rainfall. Macchi said the drought has caused the ground to crack and shift – impacting the water infrastructure.

“We’ve had a higher number of leaks than we would normally experience," he said. "We had a significant number of water leaks last summer when we also experienced a drought – but this has been far more severe than what we had last summer."

Houston currently has over 500 leaks and Macchi said leaks are being addressed on a weekly basis. The department said there is a process when it comes to treating leaks and they take many factors into consideration like the impact to surrounding areas and the severity of the leak.

"Areas that are prioritized for us are always going to be schools, hospitals, nursing homes, dialysis centers, anywhere that we know that there is going to be a significant impact on a lack of water to that area,' said Macchi "Anytime we have to repair a leak, that also means that we have to cut off water entirely to a certain section, and while the leak can be repaired, we can’t repair a pipe that’s actually got active pressure flowing through it."

The department said it will try to get to all leaks in a timely manner and strides have been this summer.

"We’ve actually closed out almost 4,000 work orders just from the beginning of June and are addressing these water leaks across the city."

Mayor Sylvester Turner put a call out for more contractors before the water restrictions were implemented. The city already had six additional contractors on top of its regular staff and has now reached a total of 10 contractors to help fix water line leaks.

"Our purpose for that is really to make sure that we are able to tackle the problems as they come along," said Macchi "One of the things we don’t want to do is spend the entire rest of the year trying to clear out a backlog of leaks – we really do want to be able to eliminate as many of them as we possibly can as soon as we can."

There hasn't been a timeline on when the restrictions could be lifted, but residents are still being asked to conserve. The department encourages residents to call 311 to report leaks and for anyone who is violating the water restrictions.

Ashley Brown

Ashley Brown


Ashley Brown is a news reporter at Houston Public Media, News 88.7. She covers a range of topics, primarily focusing on Houston City Hall. Before moving back to Houston in 2022, she worked at WHQR Public Radio in Wilmington, NC where she covered city and county government, homelessness and community...

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